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No Game, No Pay Day - 27 April

Wokingham & Emmbrook claim they have missed out on their biggest pay day of the season.

The Sumas were expecting a crowd of at least 300 for their Reading Senior Cup semi-final with Bracknell Town at Lowther Road this Saturday. And, with gate money and bar takings, club president Mark Ashwell estimates the club would have reaped in around £1,000 on the day.

However, the tie has now been delayed until a decision is made over what happens with the abandoned tie between Binfield and Woodcote Stoke Row. It also means the game can no longer be played at Lowther Road as it switches to a cricket ground as from next week.

"That is annoying," said Sumas manager Clive McNelly. "We are being made to suffer due to what happened elsewhere, that should not really happen. Personally, I think we should have played the semi-final this week no matter what. It looks we are talking about games in the middle of May and that's not right at this level. We are now going into the cricket season and several of our players play cricket and we have not got to try to keep everyone together."

McNelly said he would be very reluctant to switch the game to Larges Lane as it would give Bracknell a big advantage. He believes the venue will now be decided by competition organiser Martin Law, adding: "We will just have to see what he decides."

Sumas completed their Uhlsport Hellenic League Division 1 East programme with a 2-2 home draw against Chalfont Wasps on Saturday. McNelly felt a draw was a fair result, adding: "We showed good character to twice come back to equalise, I was pleased with that. The lads never gave up and that is a good quality to have."

W&E marked assistant referee Ray Emmans's 1,000th game as a Uhlsport Hellenic League match official by forming a guard of honour for him before the kick-off and then later presenting him with a special bottle of whiskey. "It was a very kind gesture from the club, I didn't expect it," said 68-year-old Emmans, who was one of the referee's assistants.


clive mcnelly wokinghamManager Want’s To Stay - 20 April

Wokingham & Emmbrook manager Clive McNelly says he wants to stay with the Uhlsport Hellenic League Division 1 East club.

There has been speculation about his future and he admits "lots of things have been said."

Speaking to Dave Wright after the Sumas had crushed pointless Wantage Town Reserves 9-0 on Monday, he said: "I work in a pub and some of my customers have come in and said 'I've heard you've been sacked'- but I told them that's news to me." He added: "I have got a few things in mind and will be speaking to the chairman (Mark Ashworth). Dan Bateman (former manager) wants to come back, which is great news for the club, and he will return as manager. I will assist and help him. That's the only reason I took this job on in the first place, as I knew Dan wanted to come back and hopefully he is going to do that."

Bateman was also at Lowther Road on Monday as the Sumas bounced back from their 7-1 defeat at Headington Amateurs 48 hours earlier. "We had a lot of players missing on Saturday," commented McNelly."It's quite a way to go and the pitch was awful. But the scoreline flattered them. We hit the woodwork three times and missed a penalty. Their goalkeeper was the man of the match, so that shows what sort of game it was."

However, it was a totally different story against Wantage. They had been hammered 10-0 at Finchampstead on Saturday and have gone through the entire season without even managing to point. They had just 12 players available with the one substitute sitting by himself on the bench. No team attendant and no physio. And Wantage were fortunate not to have conceded more than nine goals.

"It just shows what we are capable of achieving when we can field a full side," said McNelly. "The availability of players has been poor this season. If we had a more consistent set of players turning out every week, we would be much higher up the league. We beat (champions) Penn & Tylers the other week and have not lost in three games to (promoted) Woodley this season."

Wokingham are currently third from bottom, but will move up a place if they beat Chalfont Wasps in their final league game at home this Saturday. McNelly will be looking for another confidence-boosting performance before his side take on Premier Division runners-up Bracknell in the semi-finals of the Reading Senior Cup at Lowther Road on April 29.

Satsuma's Have No Fear Of Favourites - 23 March

Wokingham & Emmbrook believe they are capable of hurting hot favourites Bracknell Town when they meet in the semi-finals of the Reading Senior Cup.

The Sumas, third from bottom of the Uhlsport Hellenic League's Division 1 East, defeated Premier Division strugglers Henley Town 3-1 in their quarter-final tie on Monday night.

It is the fifth time in the last six seasons they have reached the last four, having gone on to lift the cup on four occasions. But if they are to regain the trophy – won by Henley last year – then they are going to have to overcome a formidable obstacle in Hellenic title-chasing Bracknell. Robins manager Mark Tallentire showed he is taking the competition seriously by joining a decent-sized crowd at The Triangle ground.

“I think he will have seen we are capable of hurting them,” said Jamie Shepherd, who was in charge of the team as Clive McNelly had another engagement. “I am sure we will give Bracknell a good game, especially as it will
be in our own back yard at Lowther Road. We are certain to get a good crowd.”

The Sumas were bouncing back after losing 4-3 in extra-time to Chalfont Wasps in the Hellenic Supplementary Cup on Saturday. “The boys reacted well to that defeat,” added Shepherd. “We knew we had to raise our game against local rivals and the cup holders and we put in a very good performance. We showed the quality we have got amongst our squad from start to finish/ We were the better team and could have scored five, six or even seven
goals. The lads earned their place in the semi-finals and I am really proud of them.”


Confident To Improve Fortunes - 5 January

Wokingham & Emmbrook manager Clive McNelly remains confident his side is capable of turning their fortunes around.

The Sumas lost 4-2 to Rayners Lane at Lowther Road on Saturday after playing with 10 men for 51 minutes following a red card for defender Mike Flatman. Their fourth game without a win leaves them third from bottom of the Hellenic Division 1 East with nine games remaining, seven of them being at home.

"I still think we will do okay and pick up points, but we need to start doing it as soon as possible as we haven't been doing that recently," said McNelly in converastion with Dave Wright. "We were a missing a lot of players today (Saturday) due to injury and holidays, and we will have them back soon and so I think we can finish the season on a high."

With five reserves included in their squad, Sumas made a promising start against mid-table Rayners Lane and took an early lead when Tom Williams robbed a defender and hammered the ball home via the underside of the crossbar. Williams should have had a second, but from right in front of goal he headed wide when picked out by Jack Gibbs The hosts also missed a couple of other chances, and as McNelly commented: "We dominated the first 30 minutes and should have been two or three up." But the game turned in the 39th minute when Flatman, the last man, brought down Jamal Mattan just outside the area and was sent off. To make matters worse for Sumas, Steve Coultas's free-kick beat the wall to find the net for the equaliser. With Wokingham taking a time to re-organise themselves, their goal had a couple of close escapes before half-time. Jake Wheeler was not far away with a header for Sumas, but the visitors looked the most dangerous side and Denzil Emmanuel put them ahead in the 64th minute. Following good work by Sam Whiting, Luke Gibbs almost immediately made it 2-2, but the third goal in as many minutes saw substitute Simeon Fearon restore the visitors' lead with Tyrone Goodwyn putting the issue beyond doubt in the 73rd minute.

McNelly commented: "The sending off killed us as a little bit. I'm disappointed with the result, but not by the lads' attitude and their commitment."

Sumas are home again this Saturday (2.15 ko) when the side immediately above them in the table, Didcot Town Reserves, are the visitors.


Turning Point For "Suma's" - 10 November

clive mcnelly wokinghamWokingham & Emmbrook manager Clive McNelly hopes their 4-3 victory over previously unbeaten local rivals Woodley United will prove the turning point of their season.

Dave Wright explains that since being relegated to the Uhlsport Hellenic League Division 1 East, the Sumas had not enjoyed the best of fortunes - hovering in the bottom three of the table and without a win home prior to Saturday's derby.

But after coming out on top in a seven-goal thriller at Lowther Road, McNelly said: "This will give the lads confidence and hopefully we can use it as a springboard to pick up a few more points and move up the table."

He added: "I am obviously delighted, as it was a very good performance from the lads. They (Woodley) came here unbeaten and to inflict their first defeat was very pleasing. We have been playing as well as we did today for the best part of the season, but things haven't gone quite our way. You can keep cursing your luck, but I always thought eventually it would change and it did today. Being our first home win was really pleasing both for the team and for our supporters."

Sumas move up one place in the standings to 11th, moving above Rayners Lane, who lost 1-0 at home to Finchampstead. "This side is too good to be where they are in the table - a lot of people are saying that," said McNelly. "Our immediate aim is to get up the table and after Christmas look at where we are and then see where we go from there. We have got some really good lads here and we are strengthening all the time. Hopefully, there is another new signing coming in who I think will make a massive difference to us and lift us again."

After the game, McNelly was praised by club chairman Graham Tabor: "I am very pleased with the result, especially for Clive as he certainly deserves this win for all the effort he is putting into the team."

Tabor added: "The lads have been producing some great performances this season without getting the right result. They really dug in today. Both sides played extremely well, but I think we just had the edge and that made a bit of a difference. There were some excellent individual performances, so all in all, we are over the moon."

Tabor was also delighted with the crowd, adding: "We had more than about 130 here, so it shows what local football can attract, We even had the league chairman here and he was impressed, and we also had some of our youth players here, so that was really nice as well."

The attendance of 137 was the largest in the whole of the Uhlsport Hellenic League at the weekend, with the 103 who saw Premier Division leaders Thatcham Town lose 2-1 at home to Ascot United being the only other match to attract a three-figure crowd on the coldest Saturday afternoon of the season so far.


Planning Success - 21 July

Wokingham & Emmbrook had their plans to upgrade their ground at Emmbrook approved on Wednesday evening.

The planning bid included covered seating for 100 spectators and floodlighting plus a secured walkway to the pitch. The club has now got to turn to securing funds for the necessary work.


Fingers Crossed For The Satsuma’s 14 July

Wokingham & Emmbrook have taken the lead in their efforts to install a stand and new floodlights at its Lowther Road home after planning officers earmarked the work for approval.

But the Wokingham Paper writes, club officials are not celebrating just yet, as the application has to be formally rubber-stamped by the planning committee at Wokingham Borough Council, which will decide on the matter when it meets next Wednesday (July 20).

A ‘yes’ vote from the panel will mean the Sumas can once again call Wokingham its home following many years in exile at grounds belonging to Bracknell Town and more recently, Henley Town. But should the committee reject the application, which predominately is to add a 100-seater stand with wheelchair spaces, and five floodlights, then the future of the town’s football club could very well be restrained and continue to be away from the borough.

“Subject to the planning committee’s approval next week this is wonderful news for our football club and social club,” said Mark Ashwell, Wokingham and Emmbrook President and trustee of Emmbrook Sports and Social Club, which is based in Lowther Road. “It is also wonderful news for our community. We can now make total use of our oasis of sporting endeavor in Wokingham.”

While the ground, which is also shared with Emmbrook and Bearwood Cricket Club, is the hub for the football club, stringent Football Association (FA) guidelines mean such infrastructure is necessary if the first team is to continue competing within Steps Five and Six of the Non-League pyramid – if not higher – in the future.

The application also requests permission to lay a concrete path running from the clubhouse to the football pitch and 1.1metre high fencing around it, while on-site parking provisions are also to be improved in order to provide 70 spaces on a mesh protected surface.

The application has divided opinion locally and representations for and against the plans are likely to be heard at the meeting. While those associated with the club back the plans and argue the improvements are needed for both the benefit of Wokingham and Emmbrook and sport locally, objections have come from neighbours worried the additions will lead to parking problems on Lowther Road – especially if it will become the permanent home for many of the club’s junior sections – graffiti, intrusion from the floodlights and additional litter and noise through anticipated higher attendances and visitors. Some living close to the facility, however, have thrown their support behind the proposals, but the application has also been met with mixed reactions at local authority level.

Winnersh Parish Council do not object to the plans but have asked for restrictions on the use of the floodlights, but Wokingham Town Council say such added infrastructure would “represent a scale of activity that is inappropriate to the character of a residential area and detrimental to the amenities of adjoining land users” and do not support the proposals.

It also argues the application does not comply with the borough’s adopted Core Strategy document, which aims to help map out future developments across Wokingham.

“There will be no intensification of usage,” added Ashwell. “The cars will be parked off of Lowther Road, our spectators will keep dry and our patch of grass will be used after 3pm on a cold winter’s afternoon.”

Many will know the president from his role as Executive Member for Planning and Regeneration on the borough council. He has declared an interest throughout the process and because of this will withdraw from the discussions and allow his fellow peers to come to their own conclusions when the plans go up for the debate.

The meeting will take place at Shute End, starting at 7pm.

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